Saturday, March 31, 2012


After a loooong day, a long week, several full weeks without enough time at home, last night we came home, pulled out the dough, and deeee-cooooom-preeeeeesed.  Aaaaaaaaah.

I did some mama-style decompressing things (okay -- cleaned the bathroom, started some laundry, put on my jammies -- to each her own, right?) to the soundtrack of kids relaxing.  It sounded like this, "Aaaaaaaaaaah."  Can't you just hear it?

It looked like this:

"Look at the splendid cake that Oliver made!"

"Tiny Cakes from Almost All the Countries"

Store-bought or handmade - Dough is Good.

Homemade Mancala

I heard my niece ask for an egg carton.  I heard kid busy-ness.  I heard the rattle of beads.  I'd seen masking tape show up in a number of self-initiated activities all morning.  I peeked over the counter to find this:

My niece taught Sela how to make a homemade Mancala game!

Thanks to simple construction (although brilliantly designed) & all the requisite supplies having been left scattered around the game-play, here's how they did it:

Cut off the lid of the egg carton, and
cut off each end of the lid.
Tape each lid-end to the ends of the bottom of the carton.
(I noticed the game worked a little better when the lid-end was taped on at a slant, forming more of a "well" -- the beads didn't fall out as easily.)

And you know what goes well with games?  History and geography!  Have fun!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Game Spotlight: Mastermind for Kids

A little old for Linus, a little young for Sela now, but with an adult, it's actually fun to play in trios.  It's time to get Mastermind -- same idea, more challenging, but no jungle animals.  Still totally worth buying : )

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Happy Pi Day!

I'm not a math geek, just a geeky person who likes pie and doing projects with my kids!  Pi Day (3.14) is a great way to put pie-making & eating on our calendar.  Oh, and we talked a little about math, too...

Because we were planning to deliver and share some pies with friends, I bought these foil muffin tins. To determine the size circles we would need for the bottom and top crusts, we measured the bottom of a muffin well and added it to twice the height of the side. (Problem solving & reasoning - check.  Measurement - check.  Adding fractions - check.)
Be sure to add a little extra to each circle for sealing the top and bottom crusts together.  We found that we had a bowl and a glass that were just the right diamater for use as cutters.  Next, we peeled and very thinly sliced 4 apples and tossed them in a bowl with 2 Tbsp flour, 1/3 cup sugar & sprinkled in cinnamon.  (Another quickie pie filling is frozen mixed berries, tossed with the same ingredients.)  We cut our circles from Trader Joe's (thawed) frozen pie crusts and put the tiny pies together.  We sealed the edges of each pie, cut vents on top (probably should have done pi symbol!), and sprinkled with a little cinnamon and sugar.  We baked them at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.  (Check yours at 20 minutes to be sure crusts aren't getting too brown.  If the apples aren't done, but the crusts are, just cover with foil and continue to bake.)  To serve, use kitchen shears or scissors to cut the pan apart.  Round the edges -- they're pretty sharp.  Two crusts (1 package) made 10 pies.

Hap-py Pi Day, Everybody!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Handwarmers Complete & On the Job

Remember the crocheted handwarmers I started?  I finished them!  Thanks, Sela, for documenting their handiwork on a chilly morning : )

Friday, March 9, 2012

Game Spotlight: Labyrinth

So far, so good.  I "put it out in our space."  Right out in our space.
And people keep playing it!
Great game for logico-mathematical & spatial skills.
Made by Ravensburger.

Right out into our space, as you can see.  This messy dollhouse (okay, I may have added the cobwebs) reminds me of a book we really love -- Big Susan by Elizabeth Orton Jones.  The dolls are alive, but they can't move on their own.  And the author describes how the house gets gradually more and more messed up, even without anyone playing with it -- but they can't move for most of the year to clean it up.  The first time I read it I thought, "Well, how does it just get messier & messier if no one is playing with it?"  I still don't know "how" it happens, but I now know it "does."  Great book -- check it out!

Thursday, March 8, 2012


It's never felt quite right --  rounding up winter (read "snowy winter") books every year.  I just figured out why:  Because we only see snow when it's nearly spring!  Because in spring, plans to drive to the snow don't get cancelled due to a storm, we don't have to think about putting chains on the tires, and everyone will stay warm.  And that's when all those snow-blanketed stories make sense to us! 

So after a snowy March weekend of lively sledding, creative Snowmama & Baby building, industrious fort constructing, mischevious snowball throwing, boisterous game playing by the fire with friends, we came home to enjoy some new favorites (for us!).  Viva "Winter!"

Did I mention "snow eating?"

...and snow break-taking?

Snowballs by Lois Ehlert
Snow on Snow on Snow by Cheryl Chapman
Dream Snow by Eric Carle
Stella, Queen of the Snow by Marie-Louise Gay
Poppleton in Winter by Cynthia Rylant
The Mitten by Jan Brett
The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett
The Hat by Jan Brett
Copy Me, Copycub by Richard Edwards
The Winter Visitors by Karel Hayes
Snow Amazing: Cool Facts and Warm Tales by Drake & Love

The mudroom (heart, heart)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Can We Talk?

So, I'm just going to say it.  I'm in a funk.  I hate it when that happens.  I really, really hate it.  One of the things I hate about it is that it hits without warning.  Oh, and also, how long will it last?!  And, how did I land "Here?!"

It's not an all-around funk, this one.  It's really more about how I feel I'm spending my time with my children lately.  It's nothing new to have a house and life full of "chores" -- who doesn't have a sink full of dishes, toys and books on the floor, bags dropped at the front door, meals to cook, emails to return, commitments to show up on time for?  It feels like it's more about how I'm holding it all.

When I step back and look objectively at the "things" done together each day, it looks okay.  We do fun things, get our "work" done reasonably well.  It's not "all work & no play."  We're happy -- we talk and laugh and enjoy ourselves together (mostly, overall, you know what I mean).  So, what's going on?

Is it "overcommitment" and fewer opportunities for spontaneity and relaxation?  Am I more distracted by something (or somethings)?  Is life out of focus somehow at the moment?  And if so, why?  Has there been a series of unnoticed or subtle shifts in our individual and family development, and I'm not yet caught up?  Am I "out-of-step?"  Is life just running too fast for me right now?  Have I still not gotten the hang of parenting two children?  Am I moving as a "parent of one" -- with two kids?  Is this overwhelm?  Have I lost it -- my parenting mojo?  (Can you link those two ideas together?)  Are we doing too many of the things we should be doing and not enough of the things we want to be doing?  Or am I just tired?  And how do I turn this around?  Or, is this one of those I wait out?  (I have such mixed feelings about that one!  I'm not good at waiting; although, waiting versus doing doesn't sound half-bad when I'm this tired...)  I don't mean to be over-dramatic about this.  And, I have been known to overthink a situation a time or two.  But Something is missing.  Or I'm missing Something.

This happens from time to time -- probably to everyone, I imagine?  (Right?  Please say it happens to you, too...)  And, of course, it does always turn around.  But, boy do I hate how it feels in the meantime!

Thanks for "listening."  I'd sure love to hear your thoughts on the matter...

"Snap out of it!"